We Experiment


Whether trying a new insulin routine , a new blood testing site, or an updated cannula locale, it seems that we really like to experiment. Several Diabetes Blogospherians have written about their trials and tribulations when it comes to these self-tests.

  • Scott at Scott’s Diabetes Journal writes about his new thigh site and first time fill-up with Novolog.
  • Amy at Diabetes Mine previously writes about being “armbanded” with her new Omni-pod stylishly occupying her arm.  
  • Kerri at Six Until Me shares a “tricky little spot” for her “high-tech little buddy”, stashing her pump in sock while still looking fashionable.

It is a way of fine tuning the daily routine of self-care and, let’s face it, it can bring upon some very interesting results.

For three years I have used my Freestlye Flash glucometer and have openly praised it’s functionality. When first diagnosed, I was very averse to finger pricks. They stung like a bee, and left my bruised fingers floating high, like a butterfly, in the air to dry the weeping wound. Holding a pen, working a remote control, and especially typing, were all constant pains in the…Finger! I quickly grabbed hold of Freestyle’s self proclaimed “alternate site” testing. The Abbott Diabetes Care website, maker of the Freestyle Flash says, “a blood sample test can be performed on the fingertips, forearms, upper arms, thighs, calves, and hands”. I preferred the upper arm or forearm, and for three years that is where I tested.

Freestyle Test site

Reading about other people with diabetes and their monitoring routine showed me how many people actually still test on the finger. I attribute this to the variety of meters at our fingertips… pun intended. Other meters still suggest fingertip testing for the highest accuracy. I took these proclamations to heart and decided to test out my meter’s accountability.  Here are the cold hard facts:

4/3/07 2:29pm 168 mg/dL (forearm)

                                133 mg/dL (finger)

4/4/07 9:59am 75 mg/dL (forearm)

                                63 mg/dL (finger)

4/4/07 7:10pm 37 mg/dL (forearm)

                                47 mg/dL (finger)

4/5/07 8:43am 164 mg/dL (forearm)

                                186 mg/dL (finger)

4/5/07 2:13pm 153 mg/dL (forearm)

                                162 mg/dL (finger)

4/6/07 3:07pm 65 mg/dL (forearm)

                                63 mg/dL (finger)

The numbers are, to say the least, unpredictable. There is no pattern. Sometimes forearm testing showed a higher reading, sometimes it was the finger. One time they were nearly exact. Limited resources (read: money) kept me from doing more tests as two strips per testing round runs me about two bucks. But I figured this data was sufficient.

So. This has led me to question my meters judgement. How can I trust an “alternate site”? I really can’t, definitively, which Abbott Diabetes Care acknowledges. The website suggests to “vigorously rub” alternate sites before testing to increase current blood flow to the area. Also postulating to “consult your health care professional for acceptable sites for your testing needs”. And warning to test for hypoglycemia only on the finger… especially important if hypoglycemia unaware.

Do I regret not finger testing for so long? No. And I don’t blame Abbott either. They merely improved their meter to give me an alternate/substitute, means for testing. Even if I can’t always use alternate sites, it can provide a much needed finger break… now and then.

I still stand behind my Freestyle Flash and revere in needing the worlds smallest blood sample size, .3 microliters, and having extremely fast results. But now I will put my dislike of bruised fingers aside and continue to have the most accurate results I can get.

Be strong, my thin skinned soldiers. For there are ten of you to share the load, and I promise to be gentle.



  1. I’ve not tried much with the alternate site testing. A creature of habit I guess?

  2. Hi Scott,
    You do know that arm testing is not as accurate, right? It can lead to “risky delays of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia detection.”

    Like you, I used the FreeStyle Flash on my arm for over a year — till I realized that I wasn’t getting accurate enough numbers. Back to the fingers now. If you keep the penetration level of the lancet low, it doesn’t hurt that much.

    Good luck,

    • Free knowledge like this doesn’t just help, it promote deromcacy. Thank you.

  3. Yes, I acknowleged this near the end of the post and have dedicated my fingers to testing. Puncture level set at (1), but still fine tuning amount of pressure to apply. Diff. fingers seem to vary bleedability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: